After a stunning knockout in their first meeting, the Brazilian kingpin will battle "Mighty Mouse" once again in the main event of "ONE 161: Moraes vs. Johnson II," which airs live in North American primetime on Friday, Aug. 26.
It will be another big test for Moraes, who is hoping to make lightning strike twice against the legendary 12-time flyweight world champion
At the same time, he never shies away from a challenge – and he's ready to meet this one head-on.
“As champion, I have to defend my title," Moraes said. "Regardless of who my opponent is, I have to be ready on the scheduled date to do my job in the best possible way. I've fought Demetrious Johnson. I've shown my strength against him. But if this is the fight ONE Championship wants, if that's the plan, I'm in. Let's make it happen."
Moraes originally defended his ONE flyweight world title against Johnson in the headline attraction of ONE on TNT I in April 2021.
Many critics favored the American given his world championship experience, his jaw-dropping athleticism, and his ability to expose an opponent's weaknesses in the heat of battle.
However, the Brazilian shocked those pundits when he dropped Johnson with a short right hand and then knocked him out with a knee to the head in the second round, becoming the first man to finish "Mighty Mouse" in 34 career fights.
Fans and media personalities were stunned to see Johnson lose in that fashion.
Perhaps equally astonishing was that Moraes used his striking – and not his famed Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt expertise – to get the job done.
But if you ask the defending flyweight king, those closest to him weren't shocked at all.
"A lot of people were surprised, but my team and the people who always believed in me weren’t surprised," Moraes said. "We already knew. We work very hard, we have a unique discipline. So for us, it was a normal working day, and thank God everything went well.
"I think that in this rematch, I have nothing to prove. I just want to give my best, as always, and show that I am an increasingly complete athlete."
Moraes aiming for submission in rematch with 'DJ'
Moraes scored a historic knockout of Johnson in their first matchup, and while he's expecting another finish on Aug. 26, he sees it playing out a little differently.
The surging Brazilian, who most recently submitted current No. 3-ranked contender Yuya Wakamatsu at ONE X in March, plans to utilize his masterful Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills this time around.
"This is the kind of fight that is very difficult to predict," he said. "Demetrious Johnson is a very smart guy, very tough, and I know he's coming in very hungry for this rematch. I'm training a lot. I want to show my evolution as an athlete, so I believe I can get a submission in the fourth round."
Should Moraes double down with another definitive victory over the MMA GOAT and earn his 21st career win, he will undoubtedly cement himself as the best flyweight in the sport.
And for "Mikinho," this match isn’t about bragging rights or silencing the doubters who may have called his knockout of Johnson a fluke. This is about something much more.
"This fight is very important for my legacy because I want to make as many title defenses as I can during my career," the ONE flyweight world champion added. "And (another) victory over him will help a lot in building that legacy."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.